Johnson & Johnson, which uses the Red Cross emblem on its products, is suing the American Red Cross for exploiting the Red Cross trademark and using it for commercial gain. The charity has the rights to use the logo for non-profit purposes.
Both Johnson & Johnson and the American Red Cross have held separate rights to the use of the Red Cross Design trademark.
Johnson & Johnson began using the design and Red Cross word trademarks in 1887, before the American Red Cross existed, according to Johnson & Johnson.
Since it launched, the American Red Cross has only held the rights to use the Red Cross trademark in connection with its non-profit relief services.
Johnson & Johnson now claims that the American Red Cross has started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes on all types of products, sold in a variety of retail outlets.
A statement from Johnson & Johnson says, ‘For the past several months, Johnson & Johnson has attempted to resolved this issue through cooperation and discussion with the ARC, and recently offered mediation, to no avail. The company was left with no choice but to seek protection of our trademark rights through the courts.’
According to the Red Cross, several demands have been made by Johnson & Johnson. These include stopping the Red Cross from using the emblem permanently on first aid and related products sold to the public, surrendering an inventory of accused products for potential destruction, and the handover to Johnson & Johnson of all proceeds of the sales, plus the payment of damages.
‘For a multi-million dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute that was created to protect the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross, simply so that Johnson & Johnson can make more money, is obscene,’ says Mark Everson, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross.
The case was formally filed on Wednesday and is ongoing.